DO ALL PENSIONERS GET WINTER FUEL ALLOWANCE

Do All Pensioners Get Winter Fuel Allowance | April 2024

The Winter Fuel Payment, also referred to as the Winter Fuel Allowance, is an annual tax-free payment from the UK government to support pensioners in covering the expenses of keeping warm during winter.

Eligibility and payment amounts are dependent on personal details including age, residence status, and other benefits received.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Winter Fuel Allowance

The estimated payment date usually falls in November or December, most payments made automatically.  The payment amount varies from £250 to £600, depending on various factors.

Examples of these include age and personal circumstances. The amount also includes a Pensioner Cost of Living Payment, of an amount between £150 and £300. 

Eligibility for Winter Fuel Allowance

To qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2022 to 2023, it is necessary to be born before 25 September 1956,. Additionally, you need to have lived in the UK for at least one day during the ‘qualifying week’ of 19 to 25 September 2022.

If you live abroad in Switzerland or a European Economic Area (EEA) country, you may still qualify. Certain benefits can also influence eligibility.

For instance those who receive the State Pension, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Pension Credit may automatically qualify.

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Pensioner Age and Winter Fuel Allowance

Your age and when you reach State Pension age determines the amount you will receive for the Winter Fuel Payment. The State Pension age is currently set at 66, for both men and women. 

Although deferring your State Pension does not affect eligibility for the Winter Fuel Payment, the amount you receive takes your age and whether you live alone or with a partner who also qualifies into account. 

If you or your partner jointly claim income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Pension Credit, you can increase the amount.

Benefit Amount and Payment Schedule

For winter 2022/23, the payments are:

  • £100-£300 for under 80s
  • £100-£300 for over 80s
  • £150-£300 extra one-off Pensioner Cost of Living Payment

If you qualify and live alone, you get the full amount. If you live with a partner who qualifies, the amount is shared. Payments are automatic in November/December. Contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre if you don’t get yours by mid-January.

Claiming Process for Winter Fuel Allowance

If you already receive the State Pension or certain other benefits, you do not need to claim the Winter Fuel Payment. Instead, it will be paid automatically.

If you do not get these benefits but believe you are eligible, you will need to make a claim by calling the Winter Fuel Payment Centre. You will be required to provide your National Insurance number and bank details.

First-time claimants will need to download and complete a claim form. If you have claimed before but your circumstances have changed, it is necessary to contact the centre. This will allow you to check if you need to make a new claim.

Changes in Circumstances Affecting Benefits

Changes in your personal circumstances can affect your winter fuel payment and ability to claim public funds. For instance, if you’ve moved, received free treatment in hospital, been in prison or lived in a care home during the qualifying week, your payment might be affected. 

If you’ve moved to another European Economic Area country or Switzerland, you might still get the payment. However, you must have a genuine link with the UK, such as having lived or worked there, or having family there. 

It’s essential to inform the winter fuel payment centre of any changes in your circumstances, allowing them to determine your eligibility easily.

Impact of Other Benefits on Allowance

It is important to note that receiving the Winter Fuel Payment will not affect eligibility for other benefits such as Pension Credit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Income Support.

Remember that those who qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment may also be eligible for the Cold Weather Payment

This offers further help during periods of very cold weather, between November and March. To determine eligibility, pensioners should check with their energy supplier or pension centre.

"The estimated payment date usually falls in November or December, most payments made automatically. The payment amount varies from £250 to £600, depending on various factors."

Disputing Winter Fuel Allowance Decisions

If you disagree with the decision made on your winter fuel payment, you may be able to challenge it. 

If that is the case, you should contact the decision-making office and explain why you think it’s wrong. You can also request a written statement of reasons for the decision. 

If you still disagree after receiving the statement, you can then appeal to an independent tribunal. You’ll need to do this within one month of getting the statement of reasons.

Additional Support for Pensioners in Winter

In addition to the winter fuel payment, pensioners may also be eligible for other benefits, including the Cold Weather Payment (a payment for each 7-day period of very cold weather between November and March). 

Pensioners on certain benefits automatically qualify for this payment. They may also be eligible for a warm home discount, which is a one-off discount on their energy bills between September and March. 

Therefore, pensioners should contact their energy supplier to determine whether or not they qualify.

Eligibility for Winter Fuel Allowance

How to Claim Winter Fuel Payment

If you’re eligible for the winter fuel payment, you’ll usually get it automatically. Particularly, for those who are receiving the State Pension or another social security benefit (not including housing benefit, council tax reduction, child benefit or universal credit). 

However, if you don’t get these benefits, you’ll need to claim the winter fuel payment. For first-time claimants, it is necessary to call the winter fuel payment helpline

As mentioned previously, you’ll need access to your national insurance number and your bank or building society details. 

You only need to claim the payment once. If you’ve claimed before and your circumstances haven’t changed, you’ll get the winter fuel payment automatically. 

Alternatively, If your circumstances have changed, such as moving house or starting to claim certain benefits, you’ll need to report this to the winter fuel payment centre.

Income-Related Employment and Its Impact on Winter Fuel Payment

Receiving income-related Employment and Support Allowance or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance can qualify you for automatic Winter Fuel Payment.

The specific payment amount which you will receive depends on your age, whether you live by yourself or with a partner who also qualifies, and any other benefits received. Consequently, it will not be affected by your employment status or income level.

The winter fuel payment is made regardless of employment, and it is tax-free. The benefit is aimed at helping pensioners to manage their heating costs during the winter months. As it is not considered part of public funds, claiming it doesn’t affect your right to live in the UK.

Additional Benefits for Pensioners

As previously mentioned, pensioners can also apply for benefits which are similar to the winter fuel allowance, including the Cold Weather Payment. This is paid for each 7-day period of extremely cold weather, specifically between November and March. 

Depending on whether you are eligible, you’ll receive a payment of £25 for each 7-day period of your area’s very cold weather.

Pensioner Age and Winter Fuel Allowance

Deferred State Pension and Winter Fuel Payment

Fortunately, deferring your State Pension will not impact your eligibility or the payment amounts for the Winter Fuel Payment eligibility. 

If you have deferred your State Pension, even for over a year, you are still able to receive the full Winter Fuel Payment, as long as you are eligible.

Joint Claims and the Winter Fuel Payment

If you live with a partner who also qualifies for the Winter Fuel Payment, you can make a joint claim which is shared between you. The name of which the payment will be issued depends on who is older.

Changes in your living arrangements will impact your joint payment account, making it essential to notify the Winter Fuel Payment Centre if changes occurs.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does income-related employment affect my winter fuel payment?

If you are receiving income-related Employment and Support Allowance or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you are automatically entitled to the winter fuel payment. 

2. What is a living payment?

A living payment, such as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), is a benefit for people who have a disability or health condition  which provides necessary help with daily tasks or getting around. It’s an entirely separate benefit from the winter fuel payment.

Receiving a living payment doesn’t automatically qualify you for the winter fuel payment. However, if you’re of the qualifying age and meet other eligibility criteria, you are able to receive both the living payment and the winter fuel payment. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that your circumstances are kept up-to-date. 

3. Is the winter fuel payment tax-free?

As the payment is not considered as income and therefore, is not subject to any tax. It also won’t affect any other benefits you’re claiming, including income-related Employment and Support Allowance or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. In other words, it is completely tax-free.

4. What are the benefits that follow the winter fuel payment?

If you’re eligible for the winter fuel payment, you may also qualify for additional benefits. These include the Cold Weather Payment, an extra payment for each 7-day period of very cold weather between November and March. 

You could also be eligible for the warm home discount, a one-off discount on your energy bills between September and March. If you are already receiving certain benefits, this will be paid automatically.

5. What is the qualifying date for the winter fuel payment?

The qualifying date for the winter fuel payment changes every year, typically a specific week in September.  For the Winter 2023 to 2024 payment, the qualifying week was 18 to 24 September 2023.

During the qualifying week, you must be in the UK and meet all other eligibility criteria to qualify for the winter fuel payment. If you are recognised as meeting all of the requirements, you’ll receive your payment automatically before Christmas.

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